How Do You Scale a Company to 15,000 Employees?

May 24, 2017

Picture this: You're the co-founder of a promising young biotechnology company in San Francisco. Of the two founders, you're the geeky one—the brilliant biochemist who developed an idea that the other guy, a venture capitalist, is working to bring to market. The money begins pouring in. Hires follow. Soon you find yourself in a place that was once an empty laboratory and is now a buzzing tech startup.

How do you maintain culture? How do you grow responsibly? How do you take a scientific a-ha and turn it into a company on which a Global 500 giant will decide to spend $46.8 billion?

At this year's Great Place to Work conference in Chicago, Herb Boyer—the scientist co-founder of Genentech (now a subsidiary of Roche)—answered.

"That was always a concern," he told Fortune's Alan Murray. "But there was an evolution of the culture that was originally built for the scientists. And then by osmosis it diffused into the whole organization. I think people began to realize that they were appreciated as much as the scientists were. And the scientists appreciated everybody that worked in the organization, dependent on them for their livelihood. It evolved over the years to a culture in which everyone felt that they were doing something meaningful."

Genentech CEO Bill Anderson elaborated.

"I'm always surprised that so few companies seem to get this," he said. "People don't actually get out of bed in the morning to be the number-one company or to grow earnings 10%. I mean, does anyone actually get excited about that?...Most folks aren't motivated that way."

For more, watch the video above.

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